Monday, October 31, 2011

October Recap/November Goals


October was a really good, exceptionally trying month. All the rough patches were work related, and I'll leave it at that because as difficult as work can be, I am ever-grateful to be gainfully employed.

I spent a week in Villahermosa, Mexico for work and reconnected with a lot of people I worked with last year when I spent all of June in Villa. While I was overjoyed to see everyone again, when the trip was cut short, I was extremely grateful. My mom went through over six hours of surgery while I was gone, my boys were being boarded at a break-the-bank facility, and I was sick. On the plane ride back I thought about when I wanted to be a stewardess as a profession. How things change. It's pulling teeth to get me to leave these days. I thank God for a home I love, friends I cherish and a life I don't like to put on hold.

Back in Houston, the heat was making everyone a little crazy, the boys had a massive flea outbreak (accompanied by one tick), I put more mileage on my legs than ever before, I decided I'd spend Thanksgiving in Alaska, and I finally realized that nothing stands in my way of anything except myself.


November's gonna be good. Like, silly, giddy, challenging, fulfilling good. Suffice it to say, my life looks a lot different than it did a year ago, and I'm so thankful and happy for the maelstrom of overwhelming pain and sadness it took to get me here.

Now, on to the fun stuff! Challenges!
1. I will not be spending more than $100 on food/groceries for the entire month. I read about this challenge on another blog; it's an effort to eat up all the pantry staples we accumulate, to each more fruits and vegetables, and to remember those who have to make-do all year long. This goes into effect tomorrow, and I'll keep you updated with weekly totals.

2. I will keep a daily food/exercise log. The truth is, marathon training has been amazing, but it hasn't been the fat-burner/muscle-builder I thought it would be. It's hard to change my diet/non-running-exercises at this point (the height of training), but I want to become more conscious/deliberate about the foods I eat and the ways I spend my gym time. (A subgoal would be to lose 5 lbs.)

3. Do yoga at least twice. Easy enough.

4. Read 3 books. I'm not quite halfway through "Sybil Exposed," and then I'm going to read "Once a Runner." Suggestions are always encouraged!

5. Take more pictures.

6. Have a blast in Alaska. Going to Alaska is a bucket list thing for me, and I'm so, so excited to be crossing this off! As soon as I get back, I'll cross off another line by running a marathon!

7. This is the fluff goal. Enjoy the end of this year. November and December lend themselves to tons of new memories, plenty of life-evaluating, and prepping for the upcoming new year. This year has been the most horrendously packaged gift, a precious blessing in the most terrible disguise. Though I'm ready to see it go, I want to honor the magical things that have come as a result of it.

20 Miles Strong!

I did it! I did it!

I ran not 1, not 5, not 10, not 13.1, not 15, but 20 miles this Saturday!

Finally, finally, I feel like I might be able to join the ranks of those who have crossed the 26.2 mile threshold. Still, though, my nerves were (are) not quite yet on solid ground.

The weather was absolutely perfect. I'd say it was the prettiest day in Houston so far this year - cold when we stopped for water/fuel, but perfect when we were on the move.

My running partner was none other than NinjaCupcake who kept me entertained with stories of living in Paris and training cats. With her charm and wit, I barely remembered that my ankles felt like they were going to snap off or that my knees were on the precipice of shattering. Maybe that's the real secret to running a marathon - all you really need are good shoes and great people to help you forget that you've been running for 4 hours straight.

Ninja and me, immediately post-run. We keep each other entertained with our love of rap and gangsterly things.

2-0 baby!

Feelin' strong, Ready for brunch.

The most beautiful combination of great weather, burger, mimosa and friends. Living the dream!

Oooo Ninja! What she order? Fish Fi-let! 

The best way to celebrate a running milestone. Shout out to OJ (far right) who is running the NYC marathon this weekend!

And now, we go our separate ways (me, I go to bed).  

Hope everyone enjoys a festive, fun and SAFE Halloween today! October seems like it's the last "real" month of the year - I spend the next two months in a whirlwind bliss of family, travel, running the marathon and prepping for the greatness that will be 2012.

Coming later today: October recap and November goals.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Books and 20 Miles

This week has not been ideal in terms of running. Work obligations became overwhelming in the latter days of the week, and something had to give. (I am hearing, "Excuses, excuses, excuses!" in my head right now.) I've gotten in 12 so far, and I'll do 3 more this afternoon, followed by 20 tomorrow.

Ah, the 20 mile mark. This thing is really starting to become a reality. I am almost convinced I can pull this off...but no, I won't be confident or assured until I cross the finish line on December 4.
My first, but definitely not my last (Hello, New Orleans!)

Tomorrow's celebratory brunch will be at Empire Cafe with my two favorite runners, and truth be told, the promise of unlimited food might be what gets me through those last miles back to my car. And of course the opportunity for us to commisterate over things like chafing, chapping, waking up too early, gu's, gels, chafing, energy bars, hydration, sports bras, chafing, chafing, and people in our running group who smell weird.

I've been preparing mentally all week for this run. I'm freaked out yet doing my best to trust - trust in myself, in my preparation, in my running buddies, and in my ability to push through when things suck. This, by God, I have proven able to do. God and by Florence.

And Jay and B, too.

So, onto a little book clubbin'.

Latest Read:

On the Divinity of Second Chances, by Kaya McLaren
Honestly, didn't love it. The characters were kind of flat, and you could tell the author was trying to spin this magical story in an imaginative form of writing, but it didn't take. Missed the mark. There was, however, a storyline involving the death of a pet that left me sobbing - literally - one night in my bed, stroking Benny and Roger extremely pathetically.

Currently reading:

Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan

Though not very far into this book, I'm very interested. It's an expose on the book titled (can you guess?) "Sybil" written in the 70's, which brought Multiple Personality Disorders into the limelight. However, the case based on "Sybil" was created through malpractice, abuse and extreme conflicts of interest between the patient, doctor and journalist. Still, if everything was a hoax, why did tens of thousands of people (mostly women by the way) resonate with the lie?

Future read: 

Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.

This is another book I can't wait to dive into. A fictional work about what it takes to be a distance runner. Enough said.

Please note I'm an extremely judgemental, opinionated critic, and that goes for everything - books, movies, TV shows, characters, people, restaurants, etc. Cookies are pretty much the only exception. (Herego most of the preceeding categories can be positively affected by the presence of cookies.) 

Three Things Thursday (Friday Edition)

One order of Three Things Thursday (Friday Edition) comin' up!

First of all, TTT wasn't created on Thursday because things got a little rowdy last night at none other than Benihana, if you can wrap your mind around that one. Started out innocent enough, then a couple Japanese beers and onion-volcanoes later, it's way past my blogtime. So without further ado...

1. I don't like Benihana at all.
Is that a shocker for anyone? It's overpriced, it's gimmicky, and the food really isn't that great. I didn't know anyone still ate there until last night, and then I realized it's the place you go with your grandparents...when you're in middle school.

Dear Hibachi Master, my plate is empty and my beer is warm. You've been playing with my food for 20 minutes - give me my rice!

Hold the're not Japanese at all!
I do welcome ANY opportunity to show my mad chopstick skillz.
So, note to all my potential suitors out there, don't take me to Benihana, or any other hibachi grill place for that matter. In fact, don't take me anywhere. Cook for me, grill for me, bake for me, and we'll get along juuuust fine.

2.  My lunch breaks are incredibly hurried, unenjoyable and a source of great stress in my life.
I live about 25 minutes away from work, but I fly like a bat out of hell home every day to walk my little toots for about 7 minutes, then fly back down the highway, back to work, usually sweating, unfed and worried about how many wrecks I may have left in my wake. Here are some observations from my lunch yesterday.

Know what those mean? Rain. Rain and cooler weather!
Toot 1 and Toot 2, investigating a horse-mammoth-dog that lives in one of the townhomes near us (it's the beast poking it's head through the gate hole). Benny was doing his high-pitched, woman-whine and Roger was going all-out, uber-manly bark.

The backside of our townhome complex looks like post-apocolyptic America, circa 2070. Did I just let the cat out of the bag? Yes, the world will end in 2070. Put it in your dayplanner.

The best part is they leave those tractors out so when I'm walking the dogs at 5 in the morning, it really looks like a Transformers graveyard. Perfectly spooky for this time of year. (Hi, Downtown Houston, in the background!)

 3. There is nothing that a good glass of wine amongst girlfriends can't fix.
Often referred to as Whine&Wine, these outings are sure to boost quality of life and outlook on current situations. Yesterday, my sis, Dale, and I stopped in at Vintropolis for a pre-Benimania glass of house white. Not only did we get to sit outside to enjoy the cooler weather coming in, but we solved not a small number of the world's problems while we did it.

Practically RUNNING towards the wine. Or at least away from work.

Hi. Welcome.

Dear Sis, you're gorgeous and your red hair makes me super happy.
Sidenote: There are some misinformed out there who'd say I have no taste in wine. To them I say lower expectations mean I'm never disappointed in a cheap glass of house anything! And, more wine for me when you don't like your own! (Love you, Ninja. Can't wait for our Specs classes.)

So that was my Thursday, brought to you by Friday. Today and tomorrow should be very interesting - Saturday is my first 20 mile run! Commence freak out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Morning WIN!

I really, really dislike the grocery store. Correction - I love the grocery store, I hate grocery store traffic and mayhem. Consequently, I make quick trips throughout the week, usually before work (at 6 am) or during lunch. Going at bizarre hours usually means I am not equipped with a list, often leading to what the "experts" call impulse purchases.

Let me tell you, impulse purchases have been some of the best buys of my life. Case in point:

Land O Lakes Hot Chocolates: Mint, French Vanilla, Hazelnut and Chocolate SUPREME!
Sipping, sipping...

I sat in my cube this morning and cradled a steaming cup of Mint Hot Chocolate. I knew from the smell that life had been incomplete until this very day. Empty beyond comparison until the moment I put that orange cup to my lips.

MAJOR success!

Dear cooler weather, I've all but given up on you, but that won't stop from heralding in the new season with gusto and ganas! I WILL drink hot chocolate, I WILL wear sweaters, and I WILL play Christmas tunes with or without you, cold weather!

Therapy tonight (love therapy. love it. love Carole.). We're dissecting dreams and talking about being heartbroken by female friends.

Workout tonight will be rushed if existent. Keep ya updated though fa sho.

Post-It Wisdom Wednesdays

You rarely win, but sometimes, you do.
I like post-it notes. I'm old-school like that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Freak Flag

Workout: 6 miles/1 hr

"Here's the thing, Meredith. You have a freak flag, you just don't fly it."

Here's the thing, I will watch Christmas movies whenever I want, and no one will stop me! The Family Stone is one of my favorites, despite having some painfully awkward moments; I gladly persevere due to my love of Luke Wilson, Dermott Mulroney, Diane Keaton and SJP.

Woke up hella early to go running this morning and consequently felt like crap by the afternoon. I'm hoping to get in a little weight training later tonight, but for the moment I'm perfectly happy watching this snowy, Christmas-y, feel-goodery movie to escape the heat and mosquitoes which are still unbearable here in Houston.

I swoon every time at this line: "You were shoveling snow. You were just a little girl in a flannel night gown. And you were shoveling snow from the walk in front of our house. And I was the snow, I was the snow. And everywhere it landed and everywhere it covered. You scoop me up with a big red shovel. You scoop me up."

Monday, October 24, 2011


Workout: 6 miles/1 hour

For no apparent reason, I decided today would be a great day to discuss my main sources of hydration. First and foremost is water. I drink tap water. A lot of it. Throughout the day, I try to drink four Nalgenes of water, 34 ounces each. ...Ok, so really the Nalg only displays up to 32 oz, but I fill the thing to the top, top, top. It's probably 34 oz. Probably.


This is counterbalanced, however, by an inordinate amount of Coke Zero. I usually have a can for breakfast and another can at lunch. Sometimes there's an afternoon Zero as well if the day's really dragging.

Since my diet is low in barley, spirulina, alfalfa and other grassy, mossy, green goodness, I add a couple scoops of GreenSuperFood to my water every now and then.

Not evaluated by the FDA. Winning.

Other sources of fluids come from Crystal Light, Vitamin Water Zero, hot tea and Sprite Zero. Let's just say my colleagues refer to the bathroom as my second office because I'm in there so much. 

The following pictures are the highlights of my day. I absolutely adore coming home and finding these faces on the balcony. Roger (the doxie) has the loudest bark, and Benny has the cutest, most muffled little bark. Roger looks like a crow and Benny looks like a gargoyle. They just crack me up and make my day so much better!

Hope you had a great Monday! Remember, Tuesday is the most productive day of the week, so make it count! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Live from Intention

This image comes from Pinterest, a website I - along with most others I know - have become totally obsessed with. This sentiment comes from an attitude about life I desperately want to adopt.

Usually Sundays are my glorious, schedule-free, fight-the-Monday-doldrums day of the week. That would be called a habit. I am the textbook habit-driven person; habits are my security blankets and safety nets.

Some of my habits include:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ezekiel bread sandwiches for breakfast, washed down with a Coke Zero
Reading through a specific list of blogs before starting my day.
Leaving for lunch at 10:45 every day to come home to walk the boys.
Leaving work at 3:30/4. No matter what.
Eating dinner almost immediately after walking in the door.
Being in bed, usually asleep by 9:30

Notice none of these things are necessarily healthy or positive, they are just things I've latched onto as necessary in my life. But, really, none of these things are essential...they are just habits. (Am I getting redundant?)

Some things I want to incorporate into my life but that would require living with (dedicated) intention:
Eating more vegetables.
Sweating once a day. No matter what.
Not eating as many sweets. Maybe not even eating any.
Working harder and longer.
Taking pictures with my Canon.
Sleeping less to have more hours to create/read/enjoy life.
Investing more time in my glorious friends.

This whole post was concocted in my head 45 minutes into my Bikram yoga class tonight, when I was dripping - literally, drenched, dripping, soaked - and barely able to think clearly. Our instructor reminded up to keep our eyes open, to "stay" in the room, to not wipe or fidget, and to be intentional in our workout. These are instructions I plan to carry with me as this week begins. To not be afraid to lay my habits aside in order to make more room for new intentional living.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Honoring the Changing of the Season

Have you ever heard of this? I read once that it's important to do something to honor each season as it comes, beckoning it in, welcoming it into your life. My MO extends this even to new seasons of life - new years, birthdays, the beginnings/endings of periods of life. 

Today inadvertently became my "Welcome, Fall!" day. By this, I mean I've done almost everything that I love to do - exercised, cooked, ate, read, napped and hung out with my dogs. This afternoon, I extended the Fall Honorfest by going to my favorite little joint in Houston, Yogurtland, and piling vanilla, chocolate and strawberry froyo into my belly.

I came home intending to head back out for tennis with some friends but found out it was cancelled. Instead - and this is where the real honoring aspect comes in - I de-cluttered my room, study and bathroom. I dedicated 15 minutes to this endeavor so as not to become overwhelmed, but it turns out 15 minutes was all it took, and now I have an inviting, clean downstairs rather than stressful, aggravating areas I avoid. 

The new season deserves this, a fresh start. I deserve this. With the new season comes new perspectives, new weather, new opportunities and who knows what else. I deserve to be open, ready and willing to embrace all these things - free from the mess of seasons past. 

Anyways, again, today has been maybe exactly what I needed. I plan to open a bottle of sparkling white wine, rent a girlie movie from Amazon and read until I fall asleep (much like this little man has been doing all day). 

Easy Saturday

I'm at that point in marathon training where I'm excited I've gotten this far, but I'm really, really ready to get it over with. This morning I was supposed to run a 12-13 mile recovery run, but I'm pretty sure I sustained my first marathon-related injury last week on my 18 mile run, so instead I opted for a killer spinning class and 30 minutes of upper body strength training.

The rest of my day has consisted of making homemade chicken stock (can you IMAGINE how amazing my house smells?), which I turned into a "Throw it All in the Pot" chicken soup, which I followed with a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dessert. Do you also love cereal as dessert?

The soup had shredded chicken, cannellini beans, tomato puree, chicken stock (obv), sweet potatoes, peppers and lots of different dried herbs. So delicious and fun to make!

I just started reading a new book, On the Divinity of Second Chances. I'm really excited about it, but when I tried to make another dent in the pages this afternoon, I ended up falling asleep with the boys. I finished Running on Empty a couple days ago, and it was such a great book. Definitely had a lump in my throat through some parts and felt myself cheering through the Kindle at other points.

All this to say, it's been a fantastic Saturday, and I suspect the majority of the rest of the day will probably involve a glass of sparkling wine and my new book. Obviously I'm not able to enjoy relaxing Saturdays like this very often, so I am soaking it all up today, every last ounce! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the Run

2011 has been a strange year. Hell, most of 2010 was a strange year.

2011 has also been exceptional, and I'm so excited to get back into blogging, getting y'all up to speed.

Tonight, I'm going to scaryoke. That's Scary (as in, Halloween) + Karoake (embarrasing, way-too-loud singing), and I've got quite the costume waiting for me.

It's hard for me to believe that Roger became my firstborn furbaby almost two years ago on Halloween. Time has truly flown...well, probably not for him because he spends the majority of his days sleeping, humping his brother, and picking out the round bits of kibble from his food bowl (which we call the nuggets), leaving Benny to eat the other, non-round bits (which we refer to as the vegetables).

I love my life. I really, really do. Praise God!